Friday, April 13, 2007

PBS values $ over fair reporting

Unfortunately, I first found out about PBS' new series (America at a Crossroads) when I learned that they've decided to cut the one segment that would've set this documentary apart from the rest, the clash between the fundamentalist Muslims and the moderate Muslims of the Western World.

Arizona Republic: Silencing Muslim moderates
The segment was titled, Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center. By and large, the clashes it depicted involved people like [Dr. Zuhdi] Jasser condemning violence perpetrated in the name of Islam, and fundamentalist imams condemning the ...[moderates] of the world as false Muslims.

The producers cite contexual issues as the main cause for pulling the segment, but the truth is a little more nefarious.

Then, the PBS producers hired a five-member team of consultants to review all the segments of the Crossroads series - among them a university professor who teaches a course on Islam in the United States.

That academic . . . screened a cut of Islam vs. Islamists for a group of Nation of Islam leaders - a rather serious breach of journalism protocol, considering that the Nation of Islam was a major part of Burke's Islam vs. Islamists investigation. According to an e-mail from McCloud to Burke, "These representatives (of the Nation of Islam) were outraged at the implications here and assert that if this airs, they will promptly pursue litigation."

But that's not the end of the story.

Apparently, the producer and one of the moderate Muslims in the segment are out of the closet conservatives. (Gasp!) PBS is funded by the American public via mandatory donation (i.e. your federal income tax), so as far as I can figure with the Democratic majority they don't want to hurt any feelings and risk their main source of funding, the United States Government.

The newest reports are that PBS cancelled the show on political grounds.

The producer of a tax-financed documentary on Islamic extremism claims his film has been dropped for political reasons from a television series that airs next week...

Key portions of the documentary focus on Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser of Phoenix and his American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a non-profit organization of Muslim Americans who advocate patriotism, constitutional democracy and a separation of church and state.

..."I was ordered to fire my two partners (who brought me into this project) on political grounds," Burke said in a complaint letter to PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting...

It appears that life and PBS isn't without a sense of irony.

Burke wrote that his documentary depicts the plight of moderate Muslims who are silenced by Islamic extremists, adding, "Now it appears to be PBS and CPB who are silencing them."

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